New Zealand Rugby might be pressing ahead with Super Rugby Aotearoa for 2021, but Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan says he still wants to see a full-scale trans-Tasman competition next year and has proposed running the entire competition from these shores.
"COVID has again forced us to think domestically in shaping our competition for next year," he said.
"After the success of the 2020 competition it became really a no-brainer that we do something similar again in 2021.
"Yesterday there was a board resolution to have a five-team Super Rugby competition, but this is subject to constant dialogue with the players’ association, SANZAAR, SKY and others, so we’re not quite ready to make an official announcement but we will be doing that in the coming days."
That announcement shocked many, including the Pacifika players boss Aayden Clarke after their application to join Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021 was rejected.
As such, Rugby Australia could be forced to play their second edition of Super Rugby AU - a competition which won plenty of support as the makeshift season progressed for the consistency of times and the improved standard of play.
"As far as we’re concerned, we continue to remain in dialogue with a crossover competition," Impey said.
"As you all know, they didn’t want to be involved in our expression of interest - that’s entirely up to them - but we have the door open to them in dialogue around a crossover competition once Super Rugby Aotearoa is over in 2021, and we’ve also left the door open for dialogue on a trans-Tasman type competition on the assumption, again, of those legal caveats concerning SANZAAR, RPA etc."
McLennan wants the entire competition a trans-Tasman one, believing the respect governments have got to the point where travel can once again become a norm.
But if that can't occur, McLennan, having already won the rights to host the 2020 Rugby Championship, says Australia would host the entire trans-Tasman competition.
“As an alternative, we are happy to run trans-Tasman entirely from here next year,” McLennan told The Australian.
New Zealand's decision to turn down a Pacifika team for 2021 could prove to be Australia's gain.
If, indeed, a trans-Tasman competition can't get off the ground next year as hoped, Rugby Australia would consider the inclusion of a sixth side in Super Rugby AU because it would allow for three matches on these shores a weekend rather two.
“I’d definitely like to do something with a team from the islands but we have had no formal dialogue with the Pasifika team because we presumed they were going to do something with NZ," McLennan told The Australian.
“We definitely see all the rugby-playing nations as equal partners so we will see if we can do something.
"But once again I don’t know why we aren’t looking for a trans-Tasman competition starting next year given that Covid management is becoming more sophisticated and better managed than ever before and travel bubbles are being created.”
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